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Bulletin no.18 - Wednesday 15 July

4 months, 2 weeks ago

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We hope that you are keeping well and that you are finding being back in your church buildings a blessing if you have been able to open them already. Things continue to move quickly and we hope that the information which we have in this Bulletin will help you to navigate the many different adjustments that we are all having to make.

  1. Those who are over 70 and hold the Bishop’s Permission to Officiate. 

We have received a number of enquiries from those who are over 70 and have PTO asking about whether they are once again allowed to take services. Now that we are returning to a more normal way of life and of worship we cannot, nor would we wish to, restrict clergy in this position from exercising ministry. However, we would urge you to discuss your return to ministry with the Incumbent with whom you most often work if you have one so that you can look at the risks involved in this together. If you do not relate to a particular Incumbent you can, of course, make your own decision, taking into account the various risk factors involved. Those who need to continue to shield should act accordingly. In brief, you can return to taking services if it is safe for you to do so. We hope that this clarifies the matter and want to offer our thanks for all that you do.

  1. Risk assessments concerning returning to church

As you know, a risk assessment must be made of all churches before individual private prayer and public worship can begin. We hope that PCCs will consider whether they wish to put their risk assessment online as this might be of help to those returning to church as they will be able to see that there has been a full assessment of the risks and that the church is safe to enter. It might also be of assistance to other user groups.

  1. Church halls and exercise

Now that gyms are open and other forms of exercise are permitted indoors we have had a number of enquiries about the use of church halls for this. The Archdeacons are doing some further research on this and will send out a communication later this week on this matter. It is hoped that there will also be an update in this as to whether church groups can meet in church halls. 

  1. Working with children and young people

The CTG is very grateful to the members of the Mission Team who work with Children and Young People who have collaborated with colleagues in Rochester Diocese on producing material to help parishes to work with their children and young people following the pandemic. This can be found at: https://southwark.anglican.org/downloads/cypmm/CYP%20Getting%20back%20safely%20July%202020.pdf 

  1. Bells 

There is guidance from the Central Council of Bell Ringers on how it is possible for bell-ringing to begin again. It can be found at https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/. The guidance includes a draft risk assessment and makes it clear that ringing can begin again with all the necessary precautions. This means that the number of bells that can be rung will depend upon the size of the bell tower and how many people can be accommodated after taking into account social distancing.

  1. Singing

The current guidance remains that in the church it is possible to have only one singer and one instrumentalist. The singer must be distanced from others or behind a screen. However, there is now guidance which says that professional choirs can sing outside and rehearse inside. Current restrictions still apply and, subject to any further clarification, we interpret professional to include those receiving benefits in kind. Please do remember, though, that congregational singing is still not permitted.

We hope that this clarifies some of the most pressing questions at the moment.

With our thanks for all that you do and our very best wishes,

The Coronavirus Task Group

(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and the Revd Canon Wendy Robins)